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mobile vs desktop

How to Lose Half of Your Mobile Visitors in Three Seconds or Less

What is the fastest way to drive off 53% of smartphone users when it comes to your site?

The stopwatch is ticking. You only have three seconds to answer…

As soon as the clock ticks over to four seconds, 53% of users will be gone; three seconds is all the borrowed loading time you have.

Think that mobile isn’t that important for your business?  Think again!

Over half of worldwide website views originate from mobile devices. With smarter, wearable devices becoming more popular, you should expect customers to become even more impatient. They want solutions that can be used on the go, not access to a web page that takes what seems like an eternity to load. Your customers want you to meet them on their terms, and timely communication plus a mobile-friendly interface is the way to do it.

According to Google, 70% of the landing pages in their analysis took five seconds to load the information above the fold (the area that a mobile user can see without scrolling). To load the whole site, the same sites took over seven seconds, which is far too long to keep (much less entice) mobile visitors.

Consider Walmart’s experience with mobile marketing. They learned a few tough lessons from their customers in 2014, when the average load time for their website was 7.2 seconds. That might not sound like a lot of time, but in internet terms, 7.2 seconds is forever—people simply won’t spend that long staring at a blank page.

So, what did Walmart do? The company quickly realized that mobile device latency was costing them a lot of business as customers walked out the “virtual door.” They commissioned a team and challenged them to reduce the load time. And in doing so, the team was able to reduce loading speed to 2.9 seconds with a streamlined website.

How did they go about cutting down on loading time? The team redesigned the mobile version of the Walmart site. They removed all unnecessary graphics, simplified the page as much as possible, and focused on the site load speed instead of creating a carbon copy of the desktop version that had been “optimized” for mobile devices. Yes, your site needs to be customized for a mobile device, but that’s only one piece of the puzzle. Graphics and layouts don’t matter if a visitor leaves before those images even load.

Walmart might have ignored their mobile accessibility at the start, but they also provided the rest of us with an apt learning opportunity. And in the end, the story is a positive one. They improved their conversion rate on the website by 2% per decreased minute of loading time. This might not sound like much, but for a behemoth the size of Walmart, that scope equates to millions in sales.

Key Lessons Learned

The critical success factor in the case of Walmart was their decision to approach desktop and mobile versions of their site as two completely different web projects. It’s important to be consistent with your brand story, messaging and identity across both sites, but you must assure that the mobile version loads as quickly as possible and is optimized for a mobile experience from any tablet or device. As we’re quickly learning, digital platforms come with an equal amount of opportunities as they do pitfalls.

It’s easy to say that you need to lower site loading times, but how do you actually go about doing it? Here’s how Walmart shortened mobile wait times and what you can learn from them:

  • Optimize images for search on mobile devices. High-resolution images look great but you’re compromising extremely high-quality resolution for the time it takes to load such large files. Use a program like Photoshop to reduce the resolution and the size of the images. You can get away with a medium setting when it comes to quality and the difference will be negligible.
  • Standardize Fonts: Previously, Walmart used custom fonts that took a long time to load. Simplify things by using a simple font like Arial or Times New Roman and save the customized experiences for desktop computers.
  • Reduce Javascript: This is something that is best left up to your web developer because it means changing the code. Javascript is used to create fun functions and features, but it can make your site bloated and slower to load.

Simply put, Walmart simplified its mobile site as much as possible to help visitors on the Customer BuyWay while staying true to their “Always low prices” story and strategy.

Want to find more interesting insights about mobile users and their behaviors?  Check out this cool infographic from Appgeeks – it may challenge some of your assumptions about successful mobile marketing:

https://appgeeks.org/blog/mobile-marketing-infographic/

Want to learn more about how meeting your customers on their terms can have an outsized impact on the growth of your business? Download our use-as-is 3S Playbook for Transformational Marketers here or check out a preview of my new book Marketing, Interrupted here.

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